Many consumers still hold onto the frustrating dream of going paperless at home. We'd be happy to at least reduce the clutter in our mailboxes, desks, and file cabinets.
The first step is switching to electronic statements from banks and credit cards, utilities, and investment accounts.
Consumers are being pushed that way as companies, looking to save on paper and mailing costs, encourage customers to accept
As it is now, paper carries about 90 percent of the billions of transactional documents sent each year in
The good news is that scanners are getting faster, cheaper, and smarter as technology improves.
Many homes already have a multi-function printer that includes a scanner good enough to get them started. But those who are serious about eliminating paper should consider specialized models that come with smart software and services. Here are some of the most innovative:
But it's online integration that makes Doxie stand out. The scanner can send documents or photos directly to Google Docs, Evernote, and Flickr--or to a Doxie site that comes with free storage. The scanner itself is unremarkable except that it's small, at about one foot long by 2 inches wide and it only needs a PC's USB port for power. It's slow by today's standards, taking about 12 seconds to scan one side of a document, and doesn't have an automatic feeder. Also, the whole package may be too cutesy for some with the scanner's pink hearts and the manual's walking, talking scanners. But Doxie does make scanning easier and friendlier.
Fast and portable.
The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 will quickly eat its way through a pile of documents at home or on the road. The S1300 can grab eight pages in a minute while scanning both sides in one pass. While not as small as the Doxie, the S1300 is still portable at about 11 inches by 3 inches. It weighs only three pounds and can get its power from the USB ports on a PC, or can plug into the wall while not taking up much desk space.
A full-page scanner can't get much smaller than PlanOn's Planon DocuPen Xreme X05, which look and feel like large pens. They're just long enough to capture an 8.5-inch piece of paper and are only a half-inch thick.
We tested the Planon DocuPen Xreme X05 that has added features such as a small screen for checking battery life and memory capacity. It can take tiny microSD cards for extra memory and can scan directly to BlackBerry or Windows Mobile smartphones or printers that have Bluetooth connections.
The DocuPens are about ultraportability, not speed or flexibility. Properly manipulating the device takes a bit of practice; Two hands are better than one. Scanning a page can take half a minute, plus a pause before the pen is ready for the next. But the images themselves are sharp, either in black and white or color, and the device's size makes it convenient for scans that mean carrying home less paper.
Scanning system. The NeatDesk Desktop Scanner and Digital Filing System is not only a fast and convenient model, but it also comes with ambitious software for organizing life's papers. The scanner itself is attractive enough to grace any desktop and can scan 25 pages per minute on one side, or both sides of a page at a slower pace. It's also unique for removable slots that guide large, medium-size, and small documents.
The NeatWorks software converts scanned images to text and goes a step further, usually recognizing national vendors automatically and other companies with training. The software then makes quick work of filing and organizing the documents and capturing data, such as a receipt's totals, for quick export to financial software.
While the software doesn't always live up to its ambitions, its intelligence is an added benefit to anyone trying to dig themselves out from under paper. It's a proprietary system, though, so adopting NeatWorks is a commitment. It's a hassle to export the NeatWorks files to other software. But the scanner itself will work cooperatively with other programs if a user is squeamish to adopt the NeatWorks system.
Available at Amazon.com:
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